Bitport reported about the changes in company management of Microsoft Hungary. Microsoft Hungary has appointed a new managing director, Gabriella Szentkuti. There are further personal changes on the executive management level of the company, including Katalin Antal, who is the appointed CFO of Microsoft Hungary as of August 31, 2015.
IBS blog asked Katalin Antal on this occasion. Katalin studied and, for a short period of time (2 years), taught at IBS. She was working in the FMCG sector for more than a decade, and she has considerable experience in B2B. She worked for Procter & Gamble as well as for Ecolab. She is a versatile business leader, her special knowledge covers budgeting, business forecasting, controlling, accounting, project management, financial modelling, financial challanges of marketing and supply chain, as well as auditing, and introducing SOX and ERP systems in company management. She worked with multifunctional teams and with multiple regions as well.
How did you chose IBS?
I was a professional table tennis player for 8 years, including my high school years, I played in the Club of Statistics. After high school I choose IBS because the first year seemed to be really attractive, when we study English and basic subjects. I thought this would be great, and I will have time to decide what to do later. In the meanwhile, however, I got to like IBS so much that I did not want to go anywhere else and I completed my studies here.
Looking back, what do you especially find useful in your IBS study that you could really apply in your career?
First of all, the way we were taught and we were learning, problem solving. I think this is the aspect that really differentiates IBS from other Hungarian universities. If there is a problem, we may not know the solution but it is for sure that we will find the solution somehow and solve it by the deadline. We had a lot of project work, group work which was not very common at the time, and it was a rather competitive atmosphere as well. There were many very good teachers. Katalin Julov and Elemér Szamosvölgyi for example, who taught us business policy and accounting respectively or István Magas who was the chair of the Applied Economics Department at the time. We had lots of project work and I think this attitude to teaching and learning gave IBS a unique competitive advantage compared to other universities.
Are you still in contact with IBS?
I am still in contact with quite a few of my schoolmates, and I also taught at IBS for a while which I really enjoyed. I taught corporate finance and controlling on BA and management on Msc and also participated in a newly founded coaching type of program for two years.
How did your career proceed after graduation?
Everything began in my third compulsory placement year at KPMG, then I joined Procter and Gamble and I graduated in the meantime. I think the mindset that I learnt at IBS, my actual work experiences at these great companies, the Procter and Gamble values and principles, drew me to my present position. P&G is a very interesting company, they rotate everybody in two-three years, within their function. I was in many positions there, including a headquarter position in Geneva, Switzerland. From P&G I went to maternity leave, I have two kids, an almost 7 year old daugther and a 5 year old son. When I went back I was the CFO for a new greenfield production plant in Gyöngyös. After a while I left for another quite big company, Ecolab. It is a US based B2B company, they produce dangerous chemicals, and sell their cleaning products to hospitals, hotel chains to fast-food chains for kitchen cleaning, among others. After Ecolab I was headhunted by Microsoft.
From your skills and expertise, I find “business forecasting” the most exciting.
The role of finance has been changing continuously. Business forecast is trying to anticipate, how business will perform in the future, what the main assumptions, the risks and opportunities are, how sensitive a business model is to certain external factors. My job is to highlight the most important parts of the business to concentrate on and also draw the attention where the problems are or going to be. Business forecasting includes financial statements, accounting, book-keeping but it is much more than. It is really exciting for me, as this type of view and analysis can provide decision makers with a very good basis in their work.
What are the new challenges that you meet in your new job?
This is a new type of industry for me. FMCG is a very dynamic business as well but the financials and the products are different. The challenges are how I can challenge the business in a way that helps to further develop the organization and the Hungarian business of Microsoft.